PSA2016: The 25th Biennial Meeting of the Philosophy of Science Association

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Indexically Structured Ecological Communities

Ecological communities are seldom, if ever, biological individuals. They lack causal boundaries as the populations that constitute communities are not congruent and rarely have persistent functional roles regulating the communities’ higher properties. Instead we should represent ecological communities indexically, by identifying ecological communities via the network of weak causal interactions between populations that unfurl from a starting set of populations. This precisification of ecological communities helps identify how community properties remain invariant, and why they have robust characteristics. This is a more general framework than individuality, respecting the diversity and aggregational nature of these complex systems while still vindicating them as units worthy of investigation.

Author Information:

Christopher Lean    
Department of Philosophy
Australian National University


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